07 December, 2010

Repackage an Application - Silent Install - Batch to EXE Converter

Repackage an Application – PDF-XChange Viewer PRO Deployment Methods


-This example will use the program PDF-XChange Viewer PRO for demonstration purposes but you can use any other software that is compatible with this method of repackaging!

Write a batch file with the following (desired) commands;


@echo off

"setup.exe" /VERYSILENT /NORESTART /COMPONENTS:"pdfviewer,Help,IEAddin" /KEY:"XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX" /PDFV /PDFVINBROWSER

regedit.exe /s "settings.reg"

exit


The file "settings.reg" is the registry entries which contains some of the preferences and settings for this particular program. All software that we install on our computers has this kind of entries in the "Registry Editor". You can export this registry key for your particular program and add in your batch file in order to customize some of the settings silently right after the installation!

Once your batch file is ready, let's save it as "setup.bat" for this exercise! Download the latest version of the PDF-XChange Viewer PRO program and rename it to "setup.exe" for this exercise. You will also need the program Bat to Exe Converter from (www.f2ko.de). Now, let's start repackaging the application.

Look at the following screenshots to set the same settings with your installation files like your setup.bat, setup.exe and if you want to use any custom icon for your project! Finally, you should click on "compile" button to have your application repackaged in an "exe" setup file.


 
Finally you can use the created "setup" to install you preferred application silently on your organizations computers. As we used some switches in our batch file with the fabricants setup file, our installation was silent! That means no user interaction! This is very important in an organization because you don't want anybody to install any program with any settings that they want! Sometimes they don't even know the reason or purpose of the installation. I personally have experienced this method with Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007 to deploy the same application with the same method to about 100 computers and I never had any problems. I was even able to update the existing installation on workstations with the fabricants newest versions easily!

Kubilay Elmas

01 December, 2010

Using PowerShell to Export a List of all the Users in a Security Group in Active Directory

 

PowerShell is known with its power of Active Directory management. If you really into simplifying your daily complicated time consuming tasks, this might be very interesting for you. Lately, for a small project I needed to make a list of all the users in a “Security Group” in Active Directory. The security group is called “Color Printing” and we had about 20 users in that “Security Group”. I did not want to write down all the names one by one in a excel sheet so I’ve started to make a research about how to export the list of users in security group. I know that when your users are only in an “Organization Unit”, it’s very easy to do this task, but when it’s a security group, you don’t have the “Export” option.
Here what I found to complete a task of this kind! You can download free cmdlets from http://www.quest.com/powershell/activeroles-server.aspx for “Active Directory” management tasks. Once the right setup is downloaded and installed in your computer (in my case X64 version because I use an X64 computer). You can open “PowerShell” and add the snapin into PowerShell.
1- Open PowerShell and type in “Add-PSSnapin Quest.ActiveRoles.ADManagement” without quotes.
2- Now you can try to run a cmdlet to try if your snapin is installed correctly. To try, type in the command “get-help get-qaduser
If you get the help description, which means that the snapin is installed with no problem. If you close your PowerShell and re-open it, you will notice that the snapin that you added before is no longer available. If you want that snapin to be available all the time when you start your PowerShell, you have to do the following instructions…
1- Open PowerShell and type in “new-item -itemtype file -path $profile -force" without quotes.
2- This should create a folder called "WindowsPowerShell" under "C:\Users\%username%\My Documents\" with a file called "Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1"
3- Right click on the file “Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1” and open it with Notepad or any text editor and add your commands that you want them start with your PowerShell! In our case, we will only enter the following command and save the file as it is.
Add-PSSnapin Quest.ActiveRoles.ADManagement
4- Restart your PowerShell and try the “get-help get-qaduser” command to see if your snapin is loaded when you start your PowerShell.
Now that we have everything that we need in order to complete our task, let’s begin…
To export a list of all users in a Security Group in your Active Directory environment, follow the instructions here…
1- Open your PowerShell, and use the following command to export the list. You should modify the command with your organization’s values.
Get-QADGroupMember “Color Printing” | Export-CSV -path “C:\colorprinting.csv” -notypeinformation
This command will generate a list of all the members of the “Color Printing” security group in your Active Directory in “C:\colorprinting.csv” file.

22 September, 2010

Use Google Search from Windows 7 Start Menu Instant Search Box

This is a very cool idea. Think about it, you want to search for something on Google, usualy you would click on your browser’s icon, go to Google’s web page and finaly you can type in Google’s search box what you are looking for! It’s a very short process for some users but for some powerusers, this can be unacceptable on these days. Yes there are Google desktop or Windows Search, but the problem with this kind of software on your computer is it can decrease the performance of your daily tasks! By just indexing and re-indexing every single file on your hard drive! All these troubles don’t worth when all you want to do is search Google as quickly as possible. What if I tell you that you can use your Windows 7 or Windows Vista’s “Start Menu Instant Search Box” to search on Google? What about Yahoo or Wikipedia? You can find the step-by-step instructions below…

Step-by-Step Configuring a Custom Search Engine in Start Menu Instant Search Box



1- Hit the “Windows   + R” on your keyboard and type “gpedit.msc”. Click “OK”

2- From the “Local Group Policy Editor” window, browse under

User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Instant Search



3- From the right pane of the window, you should see a setting called “Custom instant search internet search provider”. Double-click on the setting or right click and select “Edit”.

4- From the configuration window, select the “Enabled” checkbox. From the options, in the “The string or DLL resource from which to load the string shown in the Instant Search menu.” Type the name of the selection that appears in the Start Menu Instant Search Box. Example “Search Goole”

5- “The URL to use when invoking the custom Internet search, with the search term indicated by “%w”. Type “http://www.google.com/search?q=%w”. Click “OK”



6- Try to search anything in your Start Menu Search Box and see if “Search Google” option appears…







Note: You can use Yahoo, Wikipedia, Bing, any search provider that you like… Just find the search web adress of these search engines and add “%w” at the end of the URL. Here you can find a couple of them…



http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=%w YAHOO



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%w WIKIPEDIA





Enjoy…









Kubilay Elmas


07 September, 2010

HOW TO MOUNT A .VHD FILE? (ATTACH VHD FILES IN WINDOWS 7)


HOW TO MOUNT A .VHD FILE? (ATTACH VHD FILES IN WINDOWS 7)

Windows 7 Ultimate can mount a .VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) file as a hard disk. So you can browse the files in the vhd file. You can also use virtual hard disks to boot your computer. This is called native vhd support for Windows 7. This means, you can create vhd files by command line, you can boot your computer to a vhd file without a hyper-visor. This method can be used as a backup system, all depending to the situations. In this tutorial, I will only show you how to mount a VHD file. The file that I'm going to use is coming from one of my old Server 2008 backup. So, if you are using the "Backup & Restore" feature of Windows 7 (all versions of Windows 7 has that feature), you might want to go back in your backup files and find just a little Word document that you deleted last week! Windows 7 built in feature can only back-up or restore. It cannot browse the backup files. It's right here that I'm going to help you. Just to be clear, this option is available only in Windows 7 Ultimate versions.

Procedures:

  1. From Windows menu, right click on "Computer", from the drop down menu, click on "Manage" or simply press the "Windows" + "r" (Run) and type "compmgmt.msc" than click "OK".
  2. In the left pane of the "Computer Management" window, click to choose the "Disk Management" item under the "Storage" menu. Here you can see all the (virtual & physical) disks attached to your computer.

  3. From the main menu on the top of the Computer Management window, click on "Action" and choose "Attach VHD" option. As shown in the following picture.



  4. This will open up the "Attach Virtual Hard Disk" window and you have to browse to your vhd file and choose it in order to mount it. As shown in the following picture. You can even check the "Read-only" checkbox to make sure that you don't modify anything in the vhd file. If you do so you may be unable to initialize the disk or explore the file with "Explorer" additional procedure may be required with this option selected.


  5. After choosing your VHD file and clicking the "OK" button, you will see that a new drive will appear in your "Disk Management" console. The disk will have a blue hard disk icon to show you that this is a virtual disk! Usually this icon is gray.



  6. Your disk is mounted and ready for you to explore and copy your files from your backup file (.VHD) or from one of your existing Microsoft virtual machines. Simply open a Windows "Explorer" window and you will see the newly added disk. You can even make changes on the disk and saved them to the vhd file.

  7. To detach the vhd file, return to the "Disk Management" console and right click to the area of the blue hard disk icon (previously explained), from the menu, select "Detach VHD". This will open the "Detach Virtual Hard Disk" window. Just click the "OK" button with the default settings and this will be enough to unmount the VHD. Be careful with the "Delete the virtual hard disk after removing the disk." checkbox. Selecting this option will delete your mounted vhd file after the unmount process. As shown in the following picture.



    If you experience any kind of problems or if you have better/other methods of doing these operations, please contact me or leave me comments.


Kubilay Elmas

01 September, 2010

Easy Way to Enable DreamScene in Windows 7

If you want to enable the greatest feature of Windows Vista Ultimate on Windows 7, you must read this article if you want to activate the “DreamScene” feature in Windows 7.

http://bit.ly/blhyi7

NTP (Network Time Protocol) Related Problems - Update Your Computer’s Date and Time!


Lately, I had a problem with my computers graphics card. It was making too much noise that it was unacceptable to work on a computer that is as noisy as your drill! So I had an RMA (Return Material Authorization) from XFX and I did a couple of days without my computer. Than remember that I bought an "Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT" video card for an old motherboard that used to be a test machine. So, after 3 days of being offline I changed the video card from a "ATI HD 4970" to a "Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT" and the problems starts right after the first boot with the new card! Windows asks me to restart… Windows will ask you this kind of questions only if there is really a need. I restarted the computer and my new graphics card driver was already installed and it took all my settings (because I'm using a monitor and an LCD television as a display). This is very nice of Windows 7… 


But for some reason my "Windows Update" wasn't working, my "BitDefender Anti-Virus" system wasn't able to update! I am using an application (it's more a service) called "Dropbox" where I can have a folder located on my computer and sync this folder with an online server and from there you can sync to all of your computers… It's very useful if you are dealing with more than 1 computer like most of the people today. This service wasn't able to get connections and start the sync process! Then, when I tried to open a web page from two different browsers (Windows Explorer, Mozilla FireFox), I was getting a "Internet Security" message trying to tell me that it couldn't find the certificate for the web page (www.dropbox.com a very trusted one). I was familiar with this kind of "certificate" messages but when it comes from a good source that you really trust, than you start to ask questions about it! By this time, I realize that one of my FireFox plug-ins doesn't sync my bookmarks! I smell a complicated problem but I'm putting this problem away too for now and I'm lunching my "Microsoft Outlook 2010". And as I was thinking, this one gives me a certificate issue message with my gmail account. 


I started to look around in "Control Panel" and in my firewall settings… Actually I was all around that the problem might come from. Then I realized that my pc's time was set to 15:34 pm and while my watch and the "mother nature" tell me that it's 20:34 pm… Instead of changing the clock manually by myself from "Date and Time Settings", I went a little bit far in the "NTP Server" settings and I tried to sync the time with the Windows 7's default "NTP Server" which is "time.windows.com" and time didn't sync. When I tried to ping this ntp server from command prompt, I wasn't able to reach the destination by ping. So, I googled for "free ntp server lists" and I found myself on a great project's web page that has a lots of lists for ntp servers from all around the world! http://www.pool.ntp.org


After changing the ntp server with the one that I got from the "NTP Pool Project", everything was waking up! My FireFox Sync, Anti-Virus, DropBox, Windows Update, Certificates and Outlook… Everything was working perfectly. So, as I you can see that even updating your time on your computer with a functional "ntp server" can help to solve lots of problems. 
 

Procedure of changing NTP Server on a Windows 7 computer:

  1. Open "Control Panel" and click on "Date and Time"

  2. Click on the "Internet Time" tab from the "Date and Time" window and click on "Change Settings…" button.






  3. You are now in the "Internet Time Settings" window. Make sure that this "synchronize with an internet time server" checkbox is checked. You can than enter your ntp server address in the "server" field and click on "Update" button as shown on the following picture. If your ntp server address is valid than your computer's time must adjust with whatever the time zone that you are in and the synchronization will do every time that your computer needs to do it!




    Kubilay Elmas

26 August, 2010

Windows 7 Activation Methods and Issues


Recently we have reached more than 30 computers with Windows 7 Professional in our organization. This means that we can know use our KMS (Key Management Service) that requires 25 or more Windows 7 computer to be perfectly operational. As you all know, a lot of things have changed with Windows 7, including the licensing. For more information about Windows 7 licensing, you can look at this document (.doc) that comes from Microsoft.

In our company, all the Windows licenses were activated by using a MAK (Multiple Activation Key). When we have reached enough computers to use the KMS, I quickly started to transfer MAK activated desktops to KMS licensing. This was the easy part. You can even do it without standing up from your chair! Thanks to slmgr.vbs command! Or there is even a better tool to manage your desktops licenses! Windows Automated Installation KIT (Windows AIK). There is a tool included with this program, "Volume Activation Management Tool" (VAMT). You can download Windows AIK from here. This tool gives you more than an activation tool but today's topic is "Activation" so, let`s continue with this subject! Basically, this Volume Activation Management Tool scans your Active Directory, or even your Workgroup, and gives you a detailed list of all the desktops & Servers with Windows 7. From this list, you can see if your client is activated with a MAK, OEM or KMS key, or it's not activated at all! You can see the error codes for easy troubleshooting and there is even an "error code look up" tool! There is an option to choose multiple computers and with only a click, change all these computers licenses to KMS licensing service!



 
While I was transferring the entire Windows 7 family under our newly created KMS server, I realized a very strange problem. From 35 computers, I had only 4 that didn't activate! So I started to look around to understand the cause of the problem. I tried the activation process directly from these computers, but it didn't work! I used to get this error code 0xC004F035.



 

After a little bit of Google search and trying solutions by myself, I finally realized the common thing between these 4 computers that would not activate! First of all, they were all "Dell OptiPlex 745" family computers. But i had many of these same models activated with no issue! After checking the bios versions of these computers, I realized that these 4 computers were the only ones with old (really old) BIOS! When I compared the bios version of all the "Dell OptiPlex 745" computers, it was so clear that the only ones that I could not activate were the ones that the BIOS were out of date! After a quick BIOS update, I was able to proceed with the activation without a problem!

The Windows KMS & MAK systems are great tools for IT people and you really have to take advantage of these systems. This little article shares one of my experiences with these services and I thought that it can be useful to someone else to know that even the BIOS is important with a Windows 7 activation. Because windows 7 want's to verify a bunch of information during the activation and including some information from your computer's BIOS. If your computers BIOS or other drivers are not up to date in your organization, you may see other issues of this kind! Don't forget to update!


 


 

KUBILAY ELMAS


 


 

23 August, 2010

How to find Windows 7 Computers in your organization? – Applying Filters in “Microsoft Management Console”


 

With the increasing sales of Windows 7, most of the companies have now more than 1 Operating Systems in their systems. Like Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. With all this mix of operating systems, sometimes, it can be hard to find something very easy. I recently had to find out all our Windows 7 computers in our organization to change all the MAK activated Windows 7's to KMS licensing server. Usually, to find out all the computers with some specific configuration, I would use a program like "Spiceworks" or "Windows System Center Essentials". But let's assume that we don't have anything else other than our famous Windows Administration Toolkit. So, to make a good .CSV report with all the Windows 7 clients inside of your organization follow the following instructions;

  1. Fire up your "Microsoft Management Console" with the "Active Directory" snap-in!
  2. Explore to the "Organizational Unit" of your client computers in Active Directory
  3. From the "Menu Bar", click on "View" tab and "Filter Options"
  4. From the "Filter Options" window, choose to "Create a Personalized Filter" and click on "Personalize" button!
  5. Now click on "Field" button, "Computer" and choose "Operating System".
  6. In the "Condition" field, choose the "Exactly Equal" option.
  7. "Value" field must be the name of your operating system. In my case it's "Windows 7 Professional"
  8. Click on "OK" button in the 2 windows that are open!


 

Now, you can explore again to your client computers "Organizational Unit" in Active Directory and you will only see the "Windows 7 Professional" computers. This is because of the "Filter" that we just applied. To delete this filter and see everything in an "Organizational Unit", follow these instructions;

  1. In the "View" menu, choose "Filter Options"
  2. Choose "View all type of Objects" and click "OK"


 

You must be able to see every object in every "Organizational Unit" like before.


 


 


 

19 August, 2010

HOW TO ADD A PRINTER FOR ALL USERS (PER MACHINE CONNECTION) – PrintUI.dll

HOW TO ADD A PRINTER FOR ALL USERS (PER MACHINE CONNECTION) – PrintUI.dll

1-) Log in as “Administrator” in Windows

2-) Browse once \\Print to enter the credentials of someone who has access to print server.

3-) Open “CMD” and type the following command to add a printer connection on the machine.

Rundll32 printui.dll PrintUIEntry /ga /n\\Print\PRIXXXX

 

HOW TO REMOVE A PRINTER FOR ALL USERS (PER MACHINE CONNECTION) – PrintUI.dll

1-)Repeat the steps “1” - “2” and “3” as explained above.

Enter the following command to delete a per connection printer from the machine.

Rundll32 printui.dll PrintUIEntry /gd /n\\Print\PRIXXXX

After these steps, you have to reboot the computer.

Next time a user with an Active Directory account connects to this computer, the user will have all the printers that were added with this method.

Kubilay Elmas

IE through the years

As Microsoft's browser turns 15, a look back at how it's evolved.

1995: Internet Explorer 1.0
The first version of IE came in August 1996, a month after Microsoft released Windows 95. The browser was not part of the operating system, but instead was included as part of an "Internet Jumpstart Kit" in the Microsoft Plus add-in.

1995: Internet Explorer 2.0
In November 1995, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 2.0, its first browser to offer both Macintosh and Windows support. IE 2.0 also added support for the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, HTTP cookies, and Internet newsgroups.

1996: Internet Explorer 3.0
Released in August 1996, IE3 included support for e-mail, the display of GIF and JPG files, and direct playback of streaming audio without the need for additional applications.

1997: Internet Explorer 4.0
IE4 added support for Dynamic HTML (DHTML), which allowed for interactive Web sites where menus could be expanded or images could be moved around. IE4 also brought the arrival of Microsoft Outlook Express 4, an improvement to the mail and newsgroup readers that had been part of IE.

1998: Internet Explorer 5.0
Released in September 1998, IE5 expanded on the support for DHTML and allowed for greater personalization.

2001: Internet Explorer 6
Released as part of Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6 became the standard in Web browsing for years, eventually to the dismay of the entire industry, including Microsoft itself, which has struggled to move customers to more modern and secure versions of its browser.

2006: Internet Explorer 7
Released in October 2006 for users of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and later as part of Windows Vista, IE7 added support for tabbed browsing along with antimalware protection.

2009: Internet Explorer 8
Released in March 2009, Internet Explorer 8 was an attempt by Microsoft to modernize its underlying browsing engine. Other features included support for creating small "Web clips" of a portion of a Web site as well as the use of "accelerators" to take action on a highlighted piece of text. A version of IE8 was also built in as part of Windows 7.

2011?: Internet Explorer 9
Internet Explorer 9 is the next major update to IE, adding improved HTML5 support, a faster JavaScript engine, and the ability to tap a PC's graphics chip to accelerate text and graphics. Microsoft has released several platform previews and a beta is planned for September. Microsoft has not said when the final release will come, but it is unlikely to be this year.

Source: Microsoft and CNET

18 August, 2010

Fujifilm Unveils Its Second-Generation 3D Camera

Fujifilm Unveils Its Second-Generation 3D Camera

The Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 shoots 720p high-definition video in 3D and lets you view three-dimensional content without glasses.




"Three-dimensional everything" is shaping up to be the big trend of 2010 (or at least its most-prominent bastion of hype), but Fujifilm had an early jump on the 3D craze. The company introduced the 3D-shooting FinePix Real 3D WX1 all the way back in the 2D-centric days of 2009, and it will stay a generation ahead of the competition with the just-announced FinePix Real 3D W3.
From the looks of it, this is the most advanced 3D-capable digital camera we've seen yet, thanks to its manual controls, 3D display adjustments, and shooting-mode capabilities.

Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3: Revamped Hardware and Shooting Modes

The dual-lens, dual-10-megapixel-sensor W3 has many of the same specs as last year's W1, but with a few notable changes. The two-CCD camera can shoot 720p high-definition 3D video through its pair of 3X optical zoom lenses, offers a new image processor that has some innovative shooting modes, and includes an HDMI-out port for viewing 3D images and video on compatible 3D TV sets.

No glasses are needed to view images and video with a 3D effect on the camera itself. Like the W1, the W3 features a 3.5-inch, lenticular-layer-coated LCD, but Fujifilm says the version on the W3 is better than the one on the lprevious-generation camera. With the W1, 3D images seemed to flicker at times during playback, and the screen had "sweet spots" that you needed to find in order to view 3D content properly; Fujifilm says that the new screen is much brighter, has less of a flicker effect, and displays more-vivid colors.



During playback, you'll be able to manually adjust the parallax controls on the display to change the camera's depth effects. A few interesting modes in the mix make good use of the camera's two-lens setup for both 3D and 2D shooting purposes.
In 3D mode, the camera lets you manually capture left- and right-lens images at different times to create eye-popping depth effects for large objects in the distance; the W3 also allows you to take 2D shots with different effects and settings for each of the camera's lenses. The camera boasts full manual, aperture-priority, and scene-based modes, too.
Due in September, the FinePix Real 3D W3 will be priced at $500.
See our complete fall 2010 camera announcement coverage for the latest digital camera news.

17 August, 2010

Use the "Spike" Feature in Microsoft Word to Copy and Paste Text

Use the "Spike" Feature in Microsoft Word to Copy and Paste TextMicrosoft Word has a hidden feature that most people probably don't know about: a way to collect text on the clipboard from multiple locations, and then paste it all at once into your document.

The Help Desk Geek blog details how this feature works: You start by selecting a block of text, and then use Ctrl+F3 to copy it to the "Spike". Once you've selected a number of entries this way, you can then paste the combined set of copied text back into the document with the Ctrl+Shift+F3 shortcut key combination, or by typing the word "spike" and hitting F3.

This trick actually uses Microsoft Word's Quick Parts feature which we've covered before, but this entry is automatically created behind the scenes. It's a useful trick that could come in handy the next time you're reformatting a long document.

Use the Spike to Copy and Paste Text in Word [Help Desk Geek]

Send an email to How-To Geek, the author of this post, at lowell@lifehacker.com.